Strength at every angle

I first heard the term ‘strength at every angle’ from Venus Lau, a US based movement coach and Animal Flow instructor, and it struck me how important this is.  In exercise we sometimes talk about 3 dimensional movement or the ‘3 planes of motion’ – that is, that movement happens generally in 3 directions – forward and back (or ‘sagittal plane’ if you want to get technical about it), side to side (‘frontal plane’) and rotation (‘transverse plane’). But we also need to remember that life happens in all the angles in between too.

So when you’re doing strength exercises, consider how you’re moving – if you’ve been more focused moving in one direction compared to the others (say, if you’re a runner, swimmer, or cyclist, you’re probably accustomed to moving in straight lines), Being stronger in one direction or plane of motion can cause muscle imbalance can become a problem leading to injury.

The average gym programme, especially one that uses fixed axis machines will emphasise more sagittal plane movements while also moving in a very defined way – so while you’ll build strength on the machine, that may not necessarily translate well to strength or movement away from that machine. Although there’s many valid reasons for doing this, if you’re exercising to be stronger in everyday life or to make moving easier, it’s worth considering if variation in movement to get stronger at every angle is more what you need to be doing.

Here’s a few things to try if you want to be stronger at every angle:

  • Take a traditional exercise, like a squat, lunge or press up and vary the position of your hands or feet. Feel how that changes your centre of gravity and how it works your body differently. Focus on control, balance and stability through the movement. This is for bodyweight only exercises to start with, remember there’s a correct way to squat etc with load, especially heavy load.
  • Load 1 side only, or load unevenly, again feel this changes the exercise and how your body responds.
  • Explore movements from the floor. Aside from the dreaded burpee, there’s unlimited ways to get up and get down from the floor, and lots of ways to move on the floor as well. Find ways that are challenging but achievable, keep control at all times and feel where the limits are and where they can be improved.

If you want to get stronger at every angle, get in touch and find out how I can help.